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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Happy #pridemonth, y’all! I’m starting off my month long queer reading celebration with Maia Kobabe’s GENDER QUEER, from @onipress. In this intimate graphic memoir, Kobabe illustrates eir struggles, both personally and societally, with coming to terms with being both nonbinary and asexual. Kobabe is very frank in eir depiction of what ey went through during eir journey, and I greatly appreciated this frankness. As someone who struggles with their own gender identity, I found this book both enlightening and cathartic. It helps to know that I’m not alone in these struggles.

Unfortunately, GENDER QUEER has come under fire from multiple conservative fronts recently, with some government officials in Virginia going so far as to not only trying to ban it from schools and libraries, but to make it illegal for bookstores to sell the book, and to make it illegal for residents to even own the book. Why? Because this book speaks openly and beautifully about the possibility of being different from the “norm” and showing that the gender binary is an absurd notion. It’s frightening to me to see this level of hatred for those of us who are different, which makes it even more important for us to raise up books like this and pioneers like Maia Kobabe, so that our younger generations of queers know that they are not alone and that they have a place in this world.

Absolutely recommended.

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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance, Vol 2 by Shima Shinya & Daniel Josรฉ Older, illustrated by Mizuki Sakakibara

Star Wars: The High Republic - The Edge of Balance, Vol. 2 Star Wars: The High Republic - The Edge of Balance, Vol. 2 by Shima Shinya
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC: THE EDGE OF BALANCE, VOL 2 by Shima Shinya and Daniel Josรฉ Older and illustrated by Mizuki Sakakibara, is, I believe, the last official release in the first phase of High Republic books. Picking up shortly after the events of volume 1, Jedi Knight Lily and her Padawan, Keerin, are doing their best to fortify the farms and temple on Banchii following the Dengir and Nihil attacks. When it becomes clear the Nihil still have a presence on Banchii and have disabled communication there, Lily travels to Starlight to inform the Jedi there of what is happening on Banchii, and to seek the council of her former master, Arkoff. As the events of FALLEN STAR are taking place in the background of this story, Lily finds herself forging a new path to protect the people of Banchii.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Beers & Queer History by Eric Cervini

Beers & Queer History Beers & Queer History by Eric Cervini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Happy #pridemonth, y’all! My next #queer read is BEERS & QUEER HISTORY, a collaboration between @ericcervini and @millerlite. Cervini takes us on a tour of some of the more important gay and lesbian bars in the country, with short essays about each, accompanied by an illustration of the bar. Cervini also discusses the decline of the queer bar over the last couple of decades.

After reading this, it put me in mind of the local gay bars that we had here in Lansing and the sense of home and community they offered. I miss those days, hanging out, dancing, the drag shows, the mingling, and I’m happy that I’ve kept in touch with so many of those friends over the years.

A very quick read (the book is only 27 pages, illustrations included), it’s still a fun journey through a part of queer history that may never be the same again.

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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Trying by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Elise Hurst

TRYING Cover

Trying

by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Elise Hurst
Published by Compendium • December 15, 2020
ISBN 978-1970147285 • Hardcover • 48 Pages

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Book description:
How will you know what's possible if you don't try?

This is a story for anyone who has ever felt like a beginner, or had doubts, or worried they weren't good enough. It's a story for those who have experienced the pain of trying something new and not having it turn out as they had hoped.

Written by New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada, this captivating book celebrates the way failure is the just the beginning of the journey. With alluring black-and-white illustrations and a powerful message, this beautiful tale is about how failure has so much to offer--lessons that help us learn, grow, and discover all the amazing things we can do.

 
Trying, written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Elise Hurst, is a beautifully told and gorgeously illustrated story celebrating the power of failure. A young sculptor is frustrated by their apparent lack of talent as they look on to an experienced sculptor’s work and almost gives up on their dream. The experienced sculptor convinced them to keep trying, that each perceived failure is actually taking them one step closer to achieving their dream, as they learn something new from each failure.

As someone who suffers terribly from imposter syndrome, this story spoke volumes to me. Just like the young sculptor in the story, I often want to give up on learning something if I’m not perfect at it from the beginning, whether or not I’ve ever tried it before. Needless to say, this is one of those “children’s” books that can teach adults something too.

Elise Hurst’s illustrations are *stunning* and I found myself pouring over each, taking in the detail. Cover to cover, this is a spectacular book for anyone to read who struggles with trying something new.

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Thursday, May 19, 2022

History Comics: The Stonewall Riots: Making a Stand for LGBTQ Rights by Archie Bongiovanni, illustrated by A. Andrews

History Comics: The Stonewall Riots: Making a Stand for LGBTQ Rights History Comics: The Stonewall Riots: Making a Stand for LGBTQ Rights by Archie Bongiovanni
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Natalia and her friends are transported back in time with her abuela to experience the Stonewall Riots first hand in this middle grade graphic novel from the History Comics series, published by First Second Books. The teens meet activists such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, and begin to understand that there all different sorts of ways to protest and stand up for your rights.

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Friday, May 13, 2022

Devil's Reign by Chip Zdarsky, illustrated by Marco Checcetto

Devil's Reign Devil's Reign by Chip Zdarsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having not read any of Zdarsky’s work on Daredevil, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this. Even though it’s basically a Civil War redux, I still found it engaging. Zdarsky has a clear vision of these characters and Checcetto’s art is top notch throughout.

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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Molly on the Moon by Mary Robinette Kowel, illustrated by Diana Mayo

Molly on the Moon

by Mary Robinette Kowal, illustrated by Diana Mayo
Published by Roaring Brook Press • April 12, 2022
ISBN 978-1250259615 • Hardcover • 40 Pages

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Book description:
Award-winning science fiction author Mary Robinette Kowal consulted with a NASA astronaut to craft her first picture book story, accurately describing how living on the moon differs from life on Earth. Beautifully illustrated by Diana Mayo, Molly on the Moon is the tale of two siblings adjusting to their new home.

When Molly and her family move to the moon, they can only pack the essentials―just one toy each for Molly and her baby brother, Luke.

Luckily, Molly has a big imagination. A packing crate becomes a fort, a tarp becomes a witch’s cape, and some cans become a tea set. Baby Luke, on the other hand . . . has blocks.

Molly doesn’t want to share. At first. But then she realizes that when you’re on the moon―or anywhere else―a big imagination and being with someone you love can be infinitely better than all the toys in the universe.

Inspiring and imaginative,
Molly on the Moon also includes fascinating facts about the moon’s environment, revealing how the differences in gravity, temperature, and time would affect our lives.
 
Molly on the Moon, written by Mary Robinette Kowell and illustrated by Diana Mayo, from Roaring Brook Press, is a beautiful story about the power of creativity, sharing, sibling love, and science. This is Mary Robinette Kowal’s first children’s book and it’s just a brilliant as any of her other books. I had not experienced Diana Mayo’s art before, but it is charming and captures Mary Robinette’s story perfectly. I appreciated the afterword from MRK discussing some of the science behind living on the moon in terms that young readers will understand. Yay science!!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror edited by John F.D. Taff


Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror

edited by John F.D. Taff
Published by Tor Nightfire • May 10, 2022
ISBN 978-1250817327 • Hardcover • 368 Pages

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Book description:
Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a tribute to horror's longstanding short fiction legacy, featuring 12 terrifying original stories from today's most noteworthy authors.

Within these pages you'll find tales of dead men walking, an insidious secret summer fling, an island harboring unspeakable power, and a dark hallway that beckons. You'll encounter terrible monsters--both human and supernatural--and be forever changed. The stories in Dark Stars run the gamut from traditional to modern, from dark fantasy to neo-noir, from explorations of beloved horror tropes to the unknown--possibly unknowable--threats.

It's all in here because it's all out there, now, in horror.

Dark Stars features all-new stories from the following award-winning authors and up-and-coming voices: Chesya Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Gemma Files, Stephen Graham Jones, Alma Katsu, Caroline Kepnes, John Langan, Livia Llewellyn, Josh Malerman, Usman T. Malik, Priya Sharma, and John F.D. Taff.

Created as an homage to the 1980 classic horror anthology Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCauley, Dark Stars also features an introduction by Josh Malerman and an afterword from original contributor Ramsey Campbell--a poignant finale to this bone-chilling collection. 

This delicious book of tasty horror morsels dropped this week from @tornightfire and it’s another fantastic addition to their growing library of releases. Josh Malerman says it best in his foreword, about how we are currently in the midst of a horror renaissance, and I couldn’t be happier. What I’m loving most about this new wave of horror is that so much of it reaches beyond the typical horror tropes and creatures, delving more into a psychological horror that plays with the reader's emotions and challenges what we have typically seen as horror. With an anthology like this, there are obviously some stories that resonated more strongly with me than others, but as a whole, this collection is a solid piece of creeptastic reading fun.

“The Attenionist” by Caroline Kepnes read more as a psychological piece than horror, but the impending sense of doom that pervades the story definitely left me feeling sufficiently creeped out.

In “A Life in Nightmares” by Ramsey Campbell, we witness the life of Maurice as it jumps from event to event through the lens of a fever dream made possibly real.

“Papa Eye” by Priya Sharma is not necessarily something I would consider as horror, but more of a folk tale about the burdens and joys of eternal life. I think.

“Volcano” by Alicia Llewelyn is a tale of cosmic horror that left me feeling a bit lost on where the story went, and while this is intentional, I always feel like I missed something obvious in these types of stories.

“All the Things He Called Memories” is classic Stephen Graham Jones and his genius in building an excellent tale, but this being my first COVID-related horror story, it may have hit a little too close to home.

“Trinity River Blues” by Chesya Burke is another story that I wouldn’t necessarily label as horror but more along the lines of urban fantasy about a woman who can see ghosts and is cursed by one. I think I would enjoy this one even more if it was fleshed out into a full length novel.

“The Familiar’s Assistant” by Alma Katsu - suicide by vampires. That is all.

“Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream” by John FD Taff follows and creepy AF journey by a father and son after the mother’s death.

“The Sanguinstalist" by Gemma Files is another that doesn't necessarily feel like horror to me, but I would definitely be down for this to be adapted into a longer novel, or a series based in this world. Also, nothing is explained, which doesn't always work for me, but here it definitely does.

“Mrs. Addison’s Nest" by Josh Malerman reminded me of Stephen King in a way, as it deals with childhood friends facing their fears, which is something King does very well. Of course, Malerman handles this same idea perfectly, but in his own way, making something that feels familiar but is ultimately unique to him.

“Challawa" by Usman T. Mallik follows a Pakastani woman as she visits her small hometown with her husband, and things get... weird. Much like "Papa Eye", perhaps it's the folk horror that doesn't really resonate all that well with me.

“Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate" by John Langan, where a woman confronts her brother's potential killer, is a great way to close out this collection. The suspense is great, and the tension that builds throughout is palpable.
 
Overall, a solid piece of reading. Tor Nightfire has continued to impress with with their releases so far, and with their first anthology, they did not disappoint!
 
A huge thanks to Tor Nightfire and NetGalley for supplying a digital eARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
 
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Saturday, May 7, 2022

X-Men Legends, Vol 2 by Larry Hama, et al

X-Men Legends, Vol. 2 X-Men Legends, Vol. 2 by Larry Hama
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

X-Men Legends, Vol 2, collecting X-Men Legends (2021) #7-12. Seeing some old-school writers and artists get to bring some ideas from their original runs to life is cool, but I feel like this series will really only be appreciated by those of us who have been reading for the last 40 years or so. Still, a fun collection. The definite highlight for me is seeing Walter Simonson back on the X-characters. He was always a favorite of mine back in the day.

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Thursday, May 5, 2022

The World of Yaxin: Day of the Unicorn by Man Arenas

The World of Yaxin: Day of the Unicorn The World of Yaxin: Day of the Unicorn by Man Arenas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

@magneticpress is at it again, releasing another gorgeous volume! THE WORLD OF YAXIN: DAY OF THE UNICORN by @man_arenas is a beautiful dream of a book, both in story and art. On a magical island, a young fawn marvels at the birth of a unicorn and wonders at what their place will be in this magical land. Both lyrical and poetic, this book is a work of art and one of those books that seems to transcend the page into something marvelous. Highly recommended!

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Sunday, May 1, 2022

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise

Knight Owl Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this adorable picture book, young Owl, who dreams of someday becoming a knight, learns that with strength and confidence you can be brave in the scariest of circumstances, and maybe even find some friends along the way.

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